People walk in the ruts left by cars on a sidestreet in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.
Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Any change to how the city clears ice and snow from sidewalks might not happen until at least 2022, after the public works department asks council for financial backing to review the maintenance standards.Kevin Wylie, general manager of public works, said on Friday that he’ll ask council in the 2020 budget cycle for money to refresh the standard. The study would probably take 18 months.The city’s maintenance quality standard was written in 2003.“We’ll take direction from council as to what they want to look at. Sidewalks we’ll absolutely look at. They may also want to look at residential roads, even arterial roads, snow removal,” Wylie said after a meeting of the transportation committee, which voted in favour of recommending council approve the 2019 draft transportation budget.Wylie didn’t know what the cost for the study would be, but back in 2003 it cost about $300,000-$400,000 and involved two consultants. He noted it was more complex in 2003 since it was just after municipal amalgamation and the city was combining all the winter maintenance services.KPMG’s 2016 review of winter maintenance dug into the city’s deployment of resources according to the standards. Now, the standards will be under review.There could be a larger scope to the standards review. Bay Coun. Theresa Kavanagh is asking the transportation committee in April to consider reviewing both sidewalk and roads winter maintenance standards.Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury was critical of the sidewalk clearing, saying there’s a “massive gap in reality” at city hall and that he want some solutions for next winter.“The existing standards are failing us,” Fleury said.About $9 million of the proposed $70.8-million winter maintenance budget for 2019 would be for sidewalks. The winter maintenance budget is poised to increase $2.4 million this year over 2018.Wylie said the 2019 winter maintenance budget will likely be in deficit because of the severe weather, but the city won’t know the numbers until a first-quarter financial report.Crews have been working around-the-clock for two months straight, Wylie said. In some areas, city crews are trying to break up ice slabs that are five inches thick. The city is trying out new ice-breaking equipment on slippery sidewalks.The terrible 2018-2019 winter has residents calling on city hall to be better at clearing the sidewalks.
A senior citizen walks on snow covered streets in Ottawa Tuesday Jan 29, 2019.
Tony Caldwell /
Erin Andrews, representing the Healthy Transportation Coalition, showed committee members pictures of a bare-pavement road and a “death trap” icy sidewalk near the Heron transit station.“It’s just not about the money. It’s about the priorities,” Andrews said.John Woodhouse, a Walk Ottawa advocate who uses a wheelchair, said mounds of snow have hampered his mobility on sidewalks. Sometimes he has to double back to find a clear route forward.“In last three years, I have had to take the road more often than I have taken the sidewalk,” Woodhouse said.Terrie Meehan, who also uses a wheelchair, said there are residents in her Centretown building who won’t leave because the condition of the sidewalks.“I want you to think of your most vulnerable citizens,” Meehan told councillors.The transportation committee oversees roads, sidewalks, cycle paths, traffic management and parking services. The transportation portfolio has more than $286 million in anticipated operational spending in 2019.There were also questions during the committee meeting about why city on-street parking rates haven’t changed since 2008. Sustainable transportation advocates accuse city hall of hypocrisy when the city is trying to get more people to use public transit and transit fares keep increasing, yet parking rates stay frozen.However, there could be changes coming to the parking prices. The city is reviewing its municipal parking policy, particularly it’s rate-setting guidelines. Toying with on-street parking prices is currently a difficult process since the area councillor, BIA and community association all have to agree to a change.The committee voted to recommend council approve the transportation budget without any changes. Capital Coun. Shawn Menard was the only committee member who voted against the budget after expressing concern about frozen parking rates, road widening projects and winter maintenance.Council will vote on the entire 2019 city budget on Wednesday.ALSO IN THE NEWS:Château Laurier addition improved, but still needs tweaks, urban design review panel saysThe peoples’ verdict: ‘To hell with’ the NHL on LeBretonIs LeBreton Flats email@example.com/JonathanWilling